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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reels

I’ve really gone back and forth on reels when it comes to two-handers. I used to use big Hardy Marquis Salmon reels for all of my spey casting. The Salmon #3 was my first spey reel and it gave me great service for several years. I was so pleased with it that I purchased a #1 and #2 as well. Despite the fact that these reels were sort of big and clunky, they had a certain air of nostalgia to them, and since I was a new British Columbia steelheader, I felt that I needed these reels in order to add legitimacy to my pursuits. All of the classic steelheaders that I knew about or met used Hardys (especially old Hardys) so I had to have them too, allowing me to take myself seriously as a steelheader. The Hardys worked pretty well, although they were prone to typical Hardy problems of the time—reel handles that would bind and pawls that would flip over when a fast running fish took off. Still, all of these things were fixable, and the Hardys were cool because only a Hardy sounds like a Hardy.

Then I got interested in modern hi-tec reels. They were sleek and sexy and expensive and at the time all of the new wave of serious steelheaders were fishing them. The first one I got was a Ross Saltwater V. This seemed like a giant reel to me (even compared with my Marquis Salmon #3) but it was incredibly light and held miles of backing plus my longest custom spey lines. Then I started to fish Loop Traditional reels and loved them because it was so unusual to fish a quiet reel. The Loops kind of purred when a good fish ran, whereas the Hardys howled. Then I went to the Loop Evotec reels with “low volume” clickers and liked the fact that I could hear the reel but at the same time the splash! of a jumping fish.

What you need in a spey reel and what you want in a spey reel may be two very different things. In general hi-tech breaking systems are not critical unless fishing for chinook salmon. A well-made spring and pawl reel with sufficient capacity will get the job done for you. However, you might like the idea of a hi-tech brake package and ultra modern looks, in which case you will select one of the many top quality modern spey reels available.

Another thing that I’m thinking about is arbor size. Large arbors of course are all the rage for speys these days but in order to handle the capacity needed for many spey lines the reels themselves get kinda huge. In fact it is rather humorous to me these days that I look at my Ross Saltwater V--which at one time seemed like a huge reel to me--as rather puny compared to say the big Loops, Waterworks or Nautilus. While the large arbors prevent lining coiling, I wonder how long they will remain popular compared with the somewhat more compact standard arbor or mid arbor reels.

The popularity of various reel sizes will of course fluctuate with interest in various line styles. Long belly lines require more capacity, even with gel-spun poly backings; the shooting head lines currently popular require less capacity, so relatively smaller reels. Interest in shooting head style lines has also led to increasing interest in rods in 11ft – 13ft lengths. Some anglers find these rods easier to manage than the longer rods, and their shorter lengths better compliment the shorter head length of shooting head lines. Giant reels are not necessary to balance these rods, and smaller reels are usually lighter than larger ones, so the combination of lighter lines, rods and reels is a really nice set up to cast and fish over a long day on the water.

I wonder where our current fascination with extremes in line styles (extended belly one season, shooting heads the next) will lead us in reel designs. Five years from now, will we have settled on a particular head length that will lead reel makers to produce one or two standard reels for two handers? Or will the spey community remain ever inquisitive?

Over the next decade I think speycasting will once again become more regionally focussed in its approach to tackle selection. In the past—with some overlap of course—we have seen the spey world divided up as follows:

The UK and Canada: traditional spey methods
Scandinavia: shooting heads and the underhand cast
The Pacific Northwest USA: shooting head methods

New areas of spey interest are emerging, particularly the Great Lakes steelhead and salmon and Eastern North American Atlantic salmon, and these will initially adopt currently popular spey methods before adapting them and even developing their own unique approaches. Right now we have the “cult of the caster” happening in the spey community, and we often forget that the speycast is a means to an end, that end being fishing. Ultimately I think anglers will settle on line systems that are functional and promote ease of casting and fishing, and the popularity of these line systems will promote particular reel styles. As long as we have big saltwater species we will always have reels with enough capacity for the big spey lines, and some of the classic traditional tackle companies like Hardy will likely always make reels that will support the long belly line casters, but I think the preference for functional line systems with ultimately lead spey anglers to zero in on relatively smaller and lighter reels.
 

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loco alto!
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3,109 Posts
sounds like a long belly eulogy! How different from the tone that dominated the original ISC. How interesting!

winter preferences aside, I seriously and respectfully doubt that floating shooting heads will replace the long dry line.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Steve!

I don't think that it will be floating shooting heads, but somewhere in the middle. I think with all the interest in shooting head lines these days anglers are moving beyond the "stripping and shooting is bad" mantra so short head to mid belly lines will likely remain popular and probably become the most used.
I still love the long belly lines, but I don't think the market will ultimately support them as the "best" line systems.

Or, maybe I'm just getting old and lazy... :chuckle:

What is the most used line system in your circles? Windcutters and MidSpeys seem the most popular with the people I teach.
 

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JD
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3,641 Posts
Dana said:
Hey Steve!

I don't think that it will be floating shooting heads, but somewhere in the middle. I think with all the interest in shooting head lines these days anglers are moving beyond the "stripping and shooting is bad" mantra so short head to mid belly lines will likely remain popular and probably become the most used.
I still love the long belly lines, but I don't think the market will ultimately support them as the "best" line systems.

Or, maybe I'm just getting old and lazy... :chuckle:

What is the most used line system in your circles? Windcutters and MidSpeys seem the most popular with the people I teach.
Skagit lines are great for sink tips and large flies, but all that stripping still results in all the bad things said before about stripping. Cold hands, iced up guides, cold wet hands.

I have no use for mid belly lines. They are for people who can't cast a long belly.

Fifteen foot rods and long belly lines are cool, for all the reasons that were argued back when we had to chop and splice the lines ourselves.

Yeah Dana, Maybe you are getting old and lazy. :razz:
 

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Steelhead are cool!
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572 Posts
JDJones said:
I have no use for mid belly lines. They are for people who can't cast a long belly.

Fifteen foot rods and long belly lines are cool
JD,

I would have to disagree with you that mid bellies are for people who can't
cast long bellies. They are just another tool in my arsenal.
15' rods are cool! So are 12', 13', 14' and 16'. I love shortheads to long lines. Keep an open mind JD. :)
 

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loco alto!
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3,109 Posts
Dana, my circles are pretty small, and not at all concentric. The rivers we fish are pretty diverse, from ultra small brush bound to classic broad open. The lines tend to vary accordingly, more or less, but its probably safe to say that the minority of spey casters will use long bellies. Its hard work to use long belly techniques for consistent casts, and most anglers are too casual to bother.

Still I see newcomers going through many of the same progressions we've discussed before, starting on windcutters, then experimenting with longer bellies - the urge to do and learn more is strong - even though there is a good chance they'll circle back again. That's what makes this so damn fun!

JD, have you fished the NU with your XLT? Mine stays in the tackle bag, better than adorning streamside trees.
 

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Swinger of Flies
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103 Posts
Well my circle is very small....as I dont have many friends :chuckle:

We actually use both Mid and XLT. Come fall though.....its pretty much go XLT or go home. I spend most of my time on bigger water and the xlt is the tool. I have been using an XLT tip rig for my winter fishing. I just received a Mid Spey though, which is pretty good medium. I am going to give this Midspey a fair trial, but I figure I'll migrate back to the XLT.

I'll post later on the reel question as I just received a box from Nautilus :devil:
 
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